LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News vol 6 no 3, 1998, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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Green Accounting and Car-free Planning

Extracts from a speech called "The Implications of the Environmental Agenda for the Future Development of Australian Human Settlements" by Professor Peter Newman - Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University of Technology, Perth WA and previously Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP), at Murdoch University., WA  Australia. Reproduced with kind permission.

Green Accounting

There is an international move to try and build in a more sensitive and sustainable way of accounting. Thus there are now an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare and a Genuine Progress Indicator to replace GNP [Gross National Product] (see Hamilton 1998).

These are not much use to planners at local level but the City of Alberslund in Denmark has pioneered a process of green accounting that is beginning to spread. The city makes available every year on a neighbourhood basis (~100 homes) a series of parameters that measure electricity, gas, water, CO2 (calculated), transport fuel (more macro level) and solid waste. The neighbourhoods then get together with assistance from the Agenda 21 Centre (a local ecology centre) and discuss how they can reduce these. Every year for 5 years there has been a large majority of the neighbourhood groups who have shown a reduction in the parameters.

Car Free Housing and City Design

When I wrote my paper in 1983 the concept of car free housing would have been laughed at. Now it is becoming a new planning phenomenon in Europe (Scheurer, 1998).

The car free city movement began in European medieval city centres where it made much economic and environmental sense to keep cars out. It has spread, based on the success of such places as Copenhagen (Gehl and Gensoe, 1996, Newman et al 1997) into other parts of cities. Now it is becoming part of some new suburbs.

The idea is that people sign up for housing in a new development on the basis that they will never own a car, though access to car-sharing is available through the rapidly developing co-ops (in Europe and North America). The design of their housing / neighbourhood is then considerably freed up with no parking requirement and complete traffic free public spaces. The appeal to families with young children is immediate, but the appeal to developers has become also clear as more compact land use with generous public spaces can become much easier to design.

There are real questions about whether such an approach could work in Australia. The problems of visitors, of so many 'unbiblical cords still attached to petrol pumps', mean that few developers will jump at the idea. But some will and will be surprised how well it will work. There are after all about 30% of households already with no cars in Australian cities.

They need only be small demonstrations at first but the SUSTAINABILITY advantages would seem to warrant a serious effort by some innovative councils.

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